Child identity theft is on the rise

Children try out networked computer laptops in the Digitial Classroom at the Microsoft stand at the CeBIT Technology Fair on March 1, 2010 in Hannover, Germany.

Carnegie Mellon University's CyLab studied over 40,000 kids and found that over 10 percent of them had social security numbers that were being used by someone else.

Richard Power, who authored the study (PDF), says that social security numbers were the number one point of entry to this kind of theft. Most parents don't go around posting their kids social security numbers on lampposts but might not even think twice about jotting it down on a registration for soccer, where the data might not be so secure.

But even data stored with medical providers or insurance companies is susceptible to hacks. Once an ID thief has that social security number, they have a lot of power. Power talks about the numbers taken off kids as young as five years old being used to purchase handguns. Other stolen numbers have been used to get mortgages and register vehicles. In some of these cases, the lack of history associated with that particular number is attractive to the thief.

We also speak to Bo Holland, the CEO of the data protection company Debix who offers some tips on how to protect your child's identity as well as your own. Debix is also offering a free data scan for children.

Also in this program, a new vocabulary term: "Windows Stability Center". It's malware that appears to protect you from infection even as it infects you.

Yep, a real feel good program today, folks. Makes you really positive about the direction our society is going. Way to go, us.

About the author

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...